The700Level

Dear New England, has it really been 13 years?

usat-patriots-fans.jpg
USA Today

Dear New England, has it really been 13 years?

Ah, New England. It is so good to see you again, after all these years. Have you been thinking about us? We’ve definitely been thinking about you.

Has it really been thirteen years? Sounds like things have been pretty crazy on your end. Your coach got caught cheating. Then your quarterback got caught cheating, too. Wow, even the baseball team in your city picked up the habit, huh? I guess we’re not the only city that trusts a process.... though that seems to mean something a little different to you guys. “The Patriot Way” sure doesn’t hold as much water as it did back in 2004.

Things have been pretty busy over here, too. We got away from ourselves for a little bit there, went through this whole ‘Chip Kelly’ phase. Though it wasn’t all bad; he did help us give you guys a whipping in Foxboro back in 2015. Malcolm Jenkins had a 99-yard pick-six in that one. You’ll get to see him again this Sunday, by the way.

We heard you ran into Andy Reid a few months back. He never changes, huh? Though he seems to have figured you guys out, handing you a 42-27 beating back in Week 1 at home. Oh, and also a 41-14 beating back in 2014. Our new head honcho, Doug Pederson; he’s picked up a thing or two from Big Red, though we tend to think he’s a little better in a couple areas.

Hows Terrell Owens, you ask? Awkward story, actually. He betrayed us, but don’t feel bad. We got the last laugh. Revenge like that is kind of a big theme for us here. You ever see Rocky II? It may be worth checking out.

Speaking of revenge, the Giants send their best. I don’t know what you see in them. We’ve beaten them 16 out of the last 20 times we faced them, including in the playoffs the year after they ruined your perfect season. Asante Samuel (who I’m sure you remember) was able to hold onto the ball that year. Oh and by the way, that masterful defensive gameplan that took away your 19-0 chances? That came from us. Jim Johnson sent his regards.

Anyway, we’re really looking forward to reconnecting on Sunday. We know it wasn’t a big inconvenience for you; having to go through the 9-7 Tennessee Titans and the Blake Bortles-led Jacksonville Jaguars. I’m not sure if you heard, but we’ve had a bit of a bumpier path. Not that we’re complaining; it’s just so good to see you again.

Because we read the ESPN piece, and we heard that Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia are abandoning ship. And while Tom Brady still looks pretty decent at age 40 (a hair transplant will do that), time is an undefeated opponent no matter how many cute Facebook videos your creepy trainer asks you to make. Whether you are ready to accept it or not, it’s pretty clear this crazy ride y’all have been on may be coming to an end, and soon.

That’s why we’re just so happy to be here with you, even if we’re starting a back-up quarterback, and a back-up left tackle, and a back-up middle linebacker, and a back-up kick returner. It was worth a year of listening to your boy Mike Lombardi talk smack about our head coach in some Machiavellian attempt to get his buddy a head coaching gig. Seriously, we’re so glad to have you here with us again, even if it means two whole weeks of having to listen to national media experts use the word “mystique” when talking about a 65-year-old man with a hoodie and a camcorder.

Because when this dynasty of yours does come to an end… and make no mistake, it will… we were always kinda hoping we’d get to be the ones to end it.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, Patriots. It really has been too long.

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

beau-allen-leather.jpg
NFL Shop

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

Philadelphia fans aren't the only ones who can't get their fill of Super Bowl Championship memorabilia. The Eagles players want in on the surfeit of champs gear as well.

Take Beau Allen for example. A true man of the people, Allen tweeted his desire for this absolutely beautiful leather jacket commemorating the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Allen tweeted aloud, wondering why the Birds' players hadn't been issued one of these leather jackets yet?

One guess? They retail for a cool $3,000. Totally worth it. 

You can pick one up right here for a low $2,999.99. It's listed as a "Men's NFL Pro Line by Fanatics Branded Black/Green Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Full-Button Leather Jacket."

You'll be happy to know it's an officially licensed NFL product and is made in the USA. Just like Beau.

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

You can't really fake it at an All-Star Game, especially one where people are actually trying. There's no lucking your way into a couple open shots and a couple generous foul calls and all of a sudden rolling your way to a 30-plus-point game; there's no isolating one defensive mismatch and exploiting it to make yourself look like '01 Shaq. Generally speaking, an All-Star Game shakes out as it should: The best shine the brightest, and those who aren't ready yet fade into the periphery with extra motivation to step things up for next year. 

And that's why it's so awesome that Joel Embiid, a mere 75 games into his NBA career, unquestionably belonged on the biggest stage with the biggest names last night. Playing for Stephen Curry's squad, JoJo posted 19 points on 8-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and two blocks, and a +5 rating for the night — the only positive plus/minus for the Steph starters. 

Out of context, those numbers may not sound particularly impressive for an All-Star outing, considering the final score of 2017's game was 192-182. But thanks to increased financial and personal motivation in this year's game, the competition was ratcheted up, and though the final score was still a robust 148-145 — Team LeBron emerging victorious — no one player really went off in this one, with Team Stephen being led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard (21 each). Consider that JoJo's 19 outpaced both teammates James Harden (12 points on 5-19 FG) and Curry himself (13 on 4-14 FG) — only two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. 

And what's more, down the stretch it was Embiid who seemed most ready to rise to the moment. With minutes remaining and his team up one, Embiid posted up LeBron James — LeBron James!! — for an easy bucket, and with the score tied and under a minute left, he got stuck isolated on the perimeter against Paul George, and still ended up blocking George's shot to win the possession back for his team. Had his squad been able to hang on in this one, he would've been able to mount a fairly compelling case for MVP, which would've made him the first player since at least the 20th century to win top honors in his first All-Star appearance. 

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and Team Stephen coach Mike D'Antoni might get most of the blame as to why. With his squad up one and Team LeBron inbounding out of a timeout, D'Antoni opted for some incomprehensible reason to bench Embiid, his best defensive player — which, somewhat unsurprisingly, resulted in LeBron scoring quickly and easily at the basket to go up one, and then DeMar DeRozan throwing the ball away at the other end. Embiid entered for the final possession, with his team needing a three to tie, and he had a chance to hoist one, but understandably passed to Curry, who drove his way into traffic and ended up not even getting a shot off. Team LeBron won, and James took home his third MVP. 

Frustrating finish, but it can't ruin what came before: Joel Embiid squaring off against the best the NBA has to offer, and proving himself a factor. (Also nailed a three and then blocked a Russell Westbrook drive at the other end, btw, so that beautiful random feud lives on.) He got as good as he gave — LeBron drilled a triple in his face immediately after JoJo took him down low — but he was in the mix, and a crucial part of his team's successes and failures. It should be the first of many such All-Star starring roles for Embiid, and hopefully the last for some time that doesn't also include him being flanked by Process Truster in Arms Ben Simmons. 

But even if it isn't — even if nothing good ever happens again with Joel, and we look back at this All-Star Game 25 years from now as the high point of this career — it still would have all been worth it. It was worth it when the team went 10-5 two Januarys ago. It was maybe worth it when Embiid gave his first-ever post-game interview following a Sixers win. 

That's what people will never understand about The Process, and that's what makes nights like this so gratifying. Franchises go decades, entire generations, without getting a moment to feel this way about one of their players, and even getting the chance to feel it about one of ours is worth seasons of sacrifice. JoJo lives, and somewhere in the bowels of the Staples Center last night, Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie had to be there and be smiling. Hope he enjoyed the Fergie national anthem as much as I did, as well.